Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity. —Albert Camus
As our politicians bicker over the solution to the problems facing the American healthcare system, Christians have lost sight of real compassion.
The image I created for this post is based on Hugo SandovalI’s impressionist painting of “The Prodigal.” Cut from the heart of Jesus’ story of true compassion is the medical caduceus. What does this image symbolize? The following parable tells the story in words.
A Crowd gathers around the broken form of a Young Man lying motionless on the roadside. Moments before, the Young Man was riding his bike down the street, when suddenly struck by a car. Dazed and confused, the Crowd looked around for someone to offer direction on what they should do.
A Doctor came to the scene. He quickly ran to the Young Man’s side, bent down and began searching through his pockets. When the Doctor could not find an insurance card, he quietly moved away and said, “I cannot help this man.”
As the crowd became angry, a successful trial Lawyer came to the scene. Upon seeing the man bleeding to death, and hearing the story of the Doctor who refused to help, the Lawyer became angry. She decried this great injustice saying, “no one in America should be refused medical care just because he cannot pay.” The Lawyer quickly bent down beside the Young Man bleeding on the ground. She put her business card in the man’s pocket and said, “when you get well, come and see me. I will be sure to represent you in a big-money lawsuit against that Doctor, the Hospital, and the Insurance companies.”
Growing more angry, the Crowd began to grumble and complain, “what is wrong with this country!?”
A wealthy US Senator whose office was close to the scene came into the crowd. Seeing the Young Man bleeding to death on the ground, he cried out, “why has no one helped this man?!” The crowd reported the story of the Doctor and the Lawyer. The Senator knew something must be done quickly to save this man’s life. He jumped into action. He climbed onto a nearby soapbox and gave an impassioned speech to the enraged Crowd. ”We need change! We must pass a law to help this man who does not have healthcare! There are many Rich People in this country who have enough money to help this man. Come with me and we will pass a Law that will force these Rich People and Big Companies to pay for this man’s healthcare!”
The crowds loved the words of compassion spoken by the wealthy-Senator, made signs in support of his speech and followed after him to help pass a Law.
Before the Crowds could leave, a well-known Pastor jumped into the middle of the ruckus and condemned the immorality of the Senator’s proposed Law. The Pastor used his great influence and spoke passionately from the Bible to rally a counter-protest against the Senator and his Law.
The TV cameras soon arrived to film the scene. The nicely-dressed Anchorwoman knelt gently beside the injured man. She held a microphone to the dying man’s mouth and asked for a statement decrying the evils of the American healthcare system. Unable to speak or sign a press release, the Anchorwoman moved on to interview the Senator, the Doctor, the Pastor and the Crowd.
Crowds passed by the scene; each chanting support for their chosen cause. The cameras followed. The Young Man was left alone, bleeding to death on the roadside.
Soon, an Elderly Man came to the scene. He bent down, and forced his aging fingers to bandage the wounds. The Elderly Man had no money of his own so he sold his car to help pay for the Young Man’s medical care.”
Which of these people; the Doctor, the Lawyer, the Senator, the Pastor, the Crowds or the Elderly-Man reflect true compassion?
Which of these people offered a real solution to the dying man?
Which of these people are you?